September 27, 2020

Fighting has broken out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the Armenian government has declared martial law and total military mobilization.

The neighboring nations, both former Soviet republics, have been mired in a decades-long standoff over the contested Nagorno—Karabakh region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but has a majority ethnic Armenian population that has been running its own affairs since Azerbaijani forces were pushed out during a war in the 1990s. A ceasefire was brokered in 1994, but there have been flare-ups since, and Sunday's escalation appears to be the worst since 2016, Al Jazeera reports.

Both sides have reported civilian deaths and blamed the other for instigating the fighting, while providing conflicting reports on how the clash has played out. The Armenian Defense Ministry said Azerbaijan launched an attack on civilian settlements Sunday morning, and in response Armenia said it shot down two helicopters and three drones and destroyed three tanks. Azerbaijan only acknowledged that one helicopter had been lost while the crew survived, and a defense ministry spokesperson said several villages in Nagorno-Karabkh "which were under enemy occupation for many years have been liberated."

Russia, France, and the European Union were among the governments that have called for an end to the violence and an immediate return to the ceasefire and negotiations. Read more at BBC and Al Jazeera. Tim O'Donnell

September 6, 2020

One man was killed and five people were injured after a series of stabbings in Birmingham, United Kingdom, during the early hours of Sunday morning. A lot of uncertainty remains, but police said they are still hunting a single suspect.

Authorities also said the stabbings do not appear to be terrorism or gang related, adding that there were no links between the victims. But they did declare a "major incident," which describes any situation involving serious harm or a security risk to the public and means special arrangements are in place for all emergency services to work together, BBC notes.

A BBC reporter at the scene said the stabbings appear to have been spurred "by a major fight between large groups of people" in an area of Birmingham known for its busy night life. A witness who works as a club promoter in the area said she has seen "quite a lot of fights" there, but "nothing like tonight." Still, there's been no confirmation the events were directly connected. Read more at BBC and The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

March 30, 2018

The U.S. military announced Friday that two coalition personnel had been killed by an improvised explosive device in Syria. Five more were injured. The casualties are the first known combat-related losses for the coalition this year, Reuters reported.

The U.S. did not specify whether those killed were American soldiers, simply stating they were members of the U.S. led coalition battling the Islamic State. The wounded personnel have been evacuated for further medical treatment.

The incident occurred Thursday night after a roadside bomb detonated, and while the U.S. did not specify where the explosion happened, the announcement came just hours after a Syrian official said a bomb exploded in the town of Manbij, near the Turkish border, Talking Points Memo noted. The U.S. said the incident is pending further investigation. Kimberly Alters

Update 10:02 a.m. ET: A Department of Defense official announced that one of the soldiers killed in the explosion Thursday was an American.

September 7, 2017

On Thursday, the consumer credit reporting company Equifax disclosed a cybersecurity breach that could affect as many as 143 million U.S. consumers — roughly 44 percent of the U.S. population.

The credit card numbers of roughly 209,000 consumers were accessed, as well as "certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers," Equifax said in a press release. Potentially leaked information includes names, birth dates, social security numbers, addresses, and possibly driver's license numbers.

Equifax discovered the breach July 29, and believes it had been vulnerable from mid-May through July. An investigation by an independent cybersecurity firm suggested that hackers "exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files," Equifax said.

"This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do," Equifax Chairman and CEO Richard Smith said in a statement. "I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes."

The company is working with law enforcement as well as conducting a review of its security operations. Affected consumers are being alerted via mail.

Equifax shares have already fallen more than 5 percent. Becca Stanek

August 9, 2017

While President Trump tweets away on his non-vacation at his New Jersey golf club, a massive, inflatable chicken is looming over the White House. On Wednesday afternoon, a chicken sporting golden hair decidedly similar to that of Trump was spotted behind the presidential residence.

The chicken was apparently the work of protesters with an impeccable sense of humor. Becca Stanek

July 28, 2017

North Korea has launched what appears to be a ballistic missile, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said Friday. The missile, launched shortly before midnight local time in Japan, is apparently headed for Japanese waters. It could land in Japan's "exclusive economic zone," Reuters reported, citing Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missile flew for roughly 45 minutes. There were "no immediate reports of damage," CNBC reported.

Davis said the Pentagon is "assessing" the situation "and will have more information soon." Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called a meeting of Japan's National Security Council.

This test would mark the 14th missile test North Korea has conducted this year. Becca Stanek

This is a breaking news story that will be updated as more details become available.

July 20, 2017

O.J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday. After a brief hearing, the Nevada Board of Parole commissioners voted unanimously in favor of Simpson's release, which could happen as soon as Oct. 1.

The 70-year-old former football star has served almost nine years of a 33-year sentence, the minimum requirement, for charges of kidnapping and armed robbery stemming from a 2007 confrontation with two sports memorabilia collectors. Simpson and five other men confronted the collectors at a Nevada hotel room.

Simpson said during his parole hearing that he did not know the men he was with were armed and that he regretted that "things turned out the way they did." "I had no intention to commit a crime," Simpson said, insisting that he's "spent a conflict-free life" and is a "good guy" who has had "problems with fidelity."

Simpson was granted parole based on his age and his compliance with prison rules. In 1995, Simpson was acquitted for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Becca Stanek

May 9, 2017

President Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed in a statement Tuesday. Trump informed Comey on Tuesday that he had been "terminated and removed from office."

Trump's decision was "based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions," the statement said. In his letter to the president, Rosenstein wrote that the way Comey "handled the conclusion of the email investigation" into Hillary Clinton's use of a private server was "wrong." "Having refused to admit his errors, the director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions," Rosenstein wrote to Trump.

In his letter to Comey, Trump wrote that it is "essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission." He added: "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau."

The search for Comey's replacement will begin immediately. "Today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement," Trump said in the White House statement. Becca Stanek

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